Here we are again; still in Washington DC, and it’s still pretty cold, but sunny. It’s the usual story of layering up and putting on scarves and hats. Breakfast comes first though, and we make use of the complimentary breakfast at the hotel.
We’ve decided to take a bus tour of the city, with the ‘Big Bus Tour’. These are open topped double decker buses, and there are four different routes that can be taken. Our ticket allows us to change between routes, hop on and off and use it how we like. We’ve worked out that we can jump on a yellow route bus in an area near the hotel called Georgetown. This is west of the city centre, and is basically the original settlement.
It’s a short walk towards Georgetown, passing over small creeks and rivers. It’s cold, but fresh, and the area looks very interesting. We spot the yellow route bus stop, and then all of a sudden the bus pulls up. Perfect timing!! We jump on and the bus heads off. We’re the only ones on board, and we head upstairs. Seconds later we head back down as it’s really cold!
Georgetown has small streets, lots of old Georgian and Victorian style houses, and some nice little shops. There are even a few corner pubs, just like back at home! Beautiful to be honest, and really quiet with hardly any cars about. We catch sight of a 220 year old canal, which is dry and no longer used, but all the former locks are there, and there are fabulous little houses on the banks. Very nice!
The bus heads through the old settlement and takes us towards central DC. We have decided to switch buses at the Lincoln Memorial and take the red route towards Union Station. This is easy enough, and soon we’re heading along The Mall, passing all the museums that we didn’t see the previous day, seeing the Whitehouse from the back (how on earth do they get that helicopter to land on the back lawn? It’s tiny, and full of trees?!). We pass several old hotels, all re-vamped, several government buildings, and then we see the theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Opposite is the house where he was taken, and actually died the following day. There’s so much history here!
Union Station comes into view, and this is where we leave the bus to have a coffee break. The station is huge and very ornate. It has marble floors, huge ceilings and is fairly quiet. Trains operate, but not all that many of them, and we realise that the American preference is for cars and planes. After a sit down and hot coffee we’re ready to go again.
This time we plan to jump back onto the red bus route, and head back to the Lincoln Memorial. The route goes through the centre, taking different streets from before. We pass the Capitol building, the Jefferson Memorial, and then we’re at the Lincoln Memorial. This is huge! It completely dominates the west end of The Mall. It’s basically a huge mausoleum with marble columns, and then inside is the large statue of Abraham Lincoln, sitting in a chair. It was impressive.
Our final trip is with the blue route bus. This one takes us from the Lincoln Memorial right out over the Potomac River, and to Arlington Cemetery, the USA’s national cemetery. A huge place, with plenty of memorials and sadly land left empty to be used to bury the dead from future conflicts. Quite sobering to be honest. Even more sobering is the route back to central DC, which passes the Pentagon, the USA’s defence building. You can see the section that was re-built after American Airlines flight 77 ploughed into the southwest section on 9/11.
Our tour ends, and we walk slowly back towards Dupont Circle and arrive back at the hotel, glad to be in the warmth once more. We need to get ready to go and visit the two hotels as planned the previous day, both part of the Kimpton Group; these are the Hotel Rouge and Hotel Monaco.
Hotel Rouge is a small boutique type hotel, with quirky rooms; there are family rooms with bunk beds, business rooms with conference facilities actually in the room, and other rooms, all decorated individually. Hotel Monaco is the former Post Office, and has huge corridors with really high ceilings. The front entrance is huge, and you can see that this would have been the actual Post Office, with all the administration offices forming a rectangle behind. The rooms are spectacular! Again, all high ceilings, huge spaces and fully equipped with everything you might need. We end the day with dinner at the Poste Restaurant within the Monaco Hotel. Service was great, and the food was to die for. The server told us that he served Michelle Obama two days previously, as she just happened to pop in with some friends. Well, today he was serving so, all is well and good!
The day is soon over and we head back to the Palomar Hotel in a cab. Once again we’re completely tired and a good night’s sleep is called for.
**Alain’s top tips**